[News] Venezuela - The New Society Will Emerge in the Commune

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Mon Jan 27 13:11:51 EST 2020


  The New Society Will Emerge in the Commune: A Conversation with Angel
  Prado | Orinoco Tribune

January 27, 2020

*A grassroots leader talks about the commune as a means to transform the 
society and the economy from the ground up.*

El Maizal is a flagship rural commune between the centrally-located 
Venezuelan states of Lara and Portuguesa, which produces livestock, 
corn, and other foodstuffs. Communal production in El Maizal is based on 
socialized control of the means of production. The democratic processes 
at the core of its initiatives include collective decision-making in the 
working process and in the distribution of the surplus, which is often 
destined towards addressing medical and housing problems in the 
community, supporting other communes, and fostering educational initiatives.

In this exclusive interview with Angel Prado, El Maizal’s key 
spokesperson, we talk about the role of the commune in the transition to 
socialism, the communards’ critical support of the government and their 
plans for an ambitious education and training initiative. Prado also 
reflects on the tenth-anniversary landmark of the commune and future 

Since Venezuela is under siege by imperialism, there should be a unified 
front in the struggle for sovereignty. However, El Maizal Commune, like 
most grassroots Chavista organizations, has a critical attitude toward 
some governmental policies and positions. What is your view of the 
dialectic between support and criticism?

When El Maizal began occupying idle land and making it collective, that 
was when Comandante Chavez was carrying out a relentless war against the 
creole oligarchy’s large estates… so El Maizal was born in the midst of 
an economic and political struggle. In that context, we necessarily 
entered into contradiction with the existing order of things: the logic 
that prevails in our society. Thus, our very history has made us into a 
critical organization, fighting against the “anti-values” of capitalist 
society that need to be destroyed. That is why we cannot turn a blind 
eye to the way that a non-Chavista logic is entering into certain 
political spheres.

Since Chavez’s death, which made us especially vulnerable in the face of 
US imperialism, the government’s main focus has been to try to establish 
tactical alliances with many sectors, sometimes even privileging private 
capital. They did this in an attempt to avoid, first, a civil war or a 
military intervention and, second, to avoid the fall of the government.

Our principles, our objectives, and our commitment to Chavez mean that 
we cannot agree with some of the government’s policies. Many of the 
pacts privileging the private sector have sidelined the potential of the 
commune – hence we don’t support the government when it comes to these 
policies. However, as long as the government remains firm against 
imperialism (as it does), we will remain firm in a unified front with it.

We will continue to constructively criticize [the government], but no 
matter what, we will never contribute to creating conditions for a 
military intervention.

As you know, we cannot rule out a direct intervention, and we have 
already witnessed indirect US action in Venezuela. Moreover, it wouldn’t 
be the first time that the United States has intervened in Venezuela 
[eg. the 1902-1903 naval blockade], and the continent has a long history 
of interventions, the most recent being the invasion of Panama [1989]. 
Also, it’s not for nothing that the US has military bases in Colombia 
and Aruba.

Latin America has undergone a long history of US interventions, toppled 
governments, and massacred populations. However, Venezuela, now in the 
sights of US imperialism, has been able to stand on its feet. That is in 
part due to the international solidarity developed over time, Chavez’s 
process of continental integration (following Bolivar’s footsteps), and 
the internal working-class organization.

For those of us in the popular movement – with our degree of autonomy 
and our disposition to say what must be said – we are among those who 
have created conditions to impede US intervention, which would be 
catastrophic not only for the people of Venezuela but for the continent 
as a whole.

Backing up a bit: there are plenty of policies underway that we don’t 
agree with. In the face of those policies, we will be critical, not 
submissive. However, we understand our unwavering commitment to the 
defense of the Patria to be one of the keys in keeping the US from 
bombing and massacring us. Actually, as opposed to the governments of 
other oil-producing countries which were also in the sight of US 
imperialism, the Venezuelan popular movement’s closing of ranks with the 
government when it comes to issues of sovereignty, is one of the reasons 
why Maduro is still standing today.

As surprising as it may seem, I think we can say that the Bolivarian 
Republic of Venezuela has so far defeated the imperialist project in our 
country. That example continues to inspire the peoples of Latin America, 
who are now rising up against the neoliberal system to which they have 
been submitted for so many years.

tierra_y_hombres_libres_1_0In El Maizal Commune, under an enormous saman 
tree, visitors will find a sculpture of Hugo Chavez. Behind it, the 
Venezuelan flag and the Zamora flag, which reads “Free land and free 
men.” (Cira Pascual Marquina/Venezuelanalysis)

*When you close ranks with the government to defend Venezuela, are you 
just defending sovereignty or are you also defending the revolution?*

I would say that we are doing both. There is a revolutionary process 
underway in Venezuela, but there is also a reformist sector that has 
been in conflict with us. The latter are getting rich from the 
opportunities that emerge with the crisis. However, the pueblo is aware 
of this problem, and the popular movement is working hard to keep the 
revolutionary process afloat.

I am sure that someday we will be strong enough not only to combat US 
imperialism but also the sectors that have been hurting the 
revolutionary project from within – those that are personally benefiting 
in the context of the crisis and the economic war.

The defense of the revolution happens in the day-to-day. Defending the 
revolution takes place in the daily building of the commune. It happens 
when a campesino produces to satisfy his family’s needs, but also when 
the campesino is committed to the society as a whole.

It is a victory for the Venezuelan people that we are still a sovereign 
nation, which is not a small thing. The Venezuelan people also defend 
the revolution in the day-to-day. This is a very important victory as 
well, and it should be known to the world! Some of the international 
left may not understand this. To them we echo Chavez in saying, “There 
are people that have spent their whole life pursuing a dream, but in 
practice, they never built anything.” We have our method, our work, and 
our project. We will defend our project, and our final victory will be 
on the day that the “pueblo takes the power in its hands.”

*From El Maizal, how do you understand Chavez’s proposal of the commune? 
Is it about local self-government or does it go beyond?*

The commune is Comandante Chavez’s political wager. He positioned it 
centerstage… His slogan “Commune or nothing!” [“Comuna o nada!”] drives 
the concept home.

The commune is the political system that Chavez planted, pruned, and 
fertilized. He did this so that a new society would bloom. The commune 
is the reorganization of society as a whole, from the small to the 
large, so that the people will be able to assume power.

In Chavez’s way of thinking, the commune is destined to end with the 
power that for so many years concentrated around the bourgeoisie, the 
dominating classes, and their obsolete state – a state that kept humble 
people away from participation not only in the political sphere but in 
all other spheres of life as well.

The commune is an interesting proposal: it offers a form of popular 
self-government, it empowers us to define our own destiny, to decide 
over our own resources, to define our production model, and to imagine 
our model of life. I think the commune is the most viable way of 
overcoming the model imposed by capitalism, which built a state machine 
to maintain control over our resources while controlling the people with 
certain forms of cultural, ideological, and religious domination.

I would dare to say that the commune is not a proposal just for the 
Venezuelan people. It’s a proposal for emancipation for the peoples of 
the world. The popular classes, the dispossessed, the majority – all of 
us have to organize from the local level, building socialist communes. 
 From there [the pueblo organized in communes] have to become the 
government of the people with real control over our natural resources 
and over our economic resources in general.

This is a popular project to change the political and economic model 
from the ground up. From there, the people have to become part of the 
project, assume it as their own, and begin to govern first at a local 
level. Also, to the degree that we, the pueblo, organize ourselves, we 
will be able to defend our countries, and even define the future of each 
country. At the end of the day, that is the only way to cast off the 
yoke of imperialism, which dominates and takes our resources, even if it 
is the local bourgeoisies who govern us.

The commune is a broad-ranging project. It is a project that integrates 
territories within a country, with the pueblo as the cornerstone. I 
think the communes could be the base from which to construct a true 
continental integration. As Chavez would say, the commune is the new 
Patria. It is the only political alternative when facing capitalism.

*In the past few months, El Maizal has kicked off an important 
educational initiative. In any self-governed project, political 
education should be one of the mainstays. Can you tell us more about the 

For our second decade at El Maizal Commune, we have laid out several 
strategic objectives. One of them is to build a popular education system 
that will educate us politically, prepare us technically, and give us 
tools for working toward collective transformation. We have built a 
commune and that is no small thing, but now is the time to work toward a 
profound cultural transformation. We need to create a new consciousness. 
We need our pueblo to see things with its own criteria and define its 
future through conscious processes of debate and reflection, as well as 
acquiring mechanisms for collective construction. To do so, we are 
developing our own educational system.

We don’t want a pueblo that just repeats slogans, who blindly follow 
some acronym or flag. This year we want to make political education and 
technical training a transversal objective. This objective shouldn’t be 
narrow. We are thinking about a system that begins with our youngest 
children who will be studying here in the commune, and we hope to build 
our own school curriculum for them. Adolescents, university students, 
workers – all must be incorporated into a system which has critical 
political formation at its center.

We need to cultivate patriotic consciousness and build political 
consciousness. We also need to create communal consciousness, and that 
happens by way of the example – through real work in the territory, but 
also through education and training.

We are doing this with the goal of culturally transforming our society, 
which comes replete with vices. It shapes us as submissive beings 
adapted to a system of domination designed by capitalism and imposed 
through violence.

The preparation of militant cadres is key for our commune, but technical 
training is very important too for all of our production processes. We 
aim for our educational system to be holistic.

We work towards the organization of a new society, and that requires a 
huge cultural transformation.

*The year 2019 marked the 10th anniversary of El Maizal Commune. Can you 
give us a brief look at what has been achieved so far?*

In ten years of communal construction here at El Maizal Commune, we have 
accumulated experiences and had battles on economic, political, 
ideological, electoral, and organizational fronts. Over the years, we 
have had the opportunity to form relationships with many people inside 
and outside of the commune who have contributed to the project. In other 
words, the commune is a collective construction for collective emancipation.

On the productive front, we have been able to design an economic system 
through which we finance diverse projects and initiatives within our 
organization and our community. We have been able to confront the 
difficult economic situation by producing, and we have broadened our 
distribution of food products and the redistribution of surpluses. We 
have also been able to connect small and midsize producers – both 
individual and collective ones – to El Maizal’s productive system. That 
has strengthened the commune as a whole.

Economic success is the key to political success. We have worked toward 
sovereignty and autonomy, consolidating projects that were initially 
precarious. We have done so with the help and orientation of many. Now 
we feel that we can initiate new projects in the areas of education and 

In the electoral sphere we’ve had some victories in tough battles 
against the political right, but also against our own government and our 
own political and electoral system. Now we have representation in the 
National Constitutive Assembly, in the state parliament, and in the 
townships in our territory. Those battles and those spaces of 
representation are symbolically important. That includes the 
representative posts that were taken out from under our feet in the 
dispute between the state, the party and the government, on the one 
hand, and the people and the popular movement, on the other.

Fortunately, in the electoral sphere, we were able to overcome a problem 
common among politicians of all types who often separate themselves from 
the people. That is to say, we continue to be humble people, some of us 
with responsibilities as elected representatives of the people… but 
above all, we are communards.

On the ethical front, I think we have advanced a lot. Today El Maizal 
has a wide network of young people incorporated into productive, 
political, administrative, and economic processes, and we are all in a 
permanent debate, questioning our values and focusing on our collective 
principles. Today El Maizal stands out not only for its productive 
capacity but also because it is an ethical example. Honesty and 
working-class solidarity at the service of the organization and on the 
path towards the construction of socialism – that is what we are about. 
Many popular organizations around the country and the world value this, 
and they recognize El Maizal as a small experience that is interesting 
and worth learning from. We have to live up to that!

I think that in our ten years on the communal path, we have advanced 
quite a bit. El Maizal Commune is made up of more than 22 communal 
councils. Our work reaches beyond our territory, and we have begun a 
process of connecting with other communities, with other organizational 
projects. In fact, among our historical objectives, the expansion of the 
communal project is considered strategic. So far, we have expressed our 
disposition to unite, and we have taken the first steps towards the 
construction of a communal society.

*What are the main challenges you are facing for the future?*

In the next ten years, we will work very hard to consolidate a new 
productive system, organizing our work democratically, moving toward 
industrialization, and eliminating intermediaries, with the objective of 
displacing the logic of capital and its monopolies, which aims to 
control the basic needs of our population while ransacking the humblest 

To overcome the logic of capital, the only option is to strongly unify 
the many popular and communal organizations around the country (and the 
world). From the ranks of true Chavismo we are called to give solutions 
to the basic needs of our society. This will have to happen hand in hand 
with the construction of new mass organizations, with a political 
militancy that will have to be up to the challenges we are facing. This 
is not only about the political and economic sphere. We are obliged to 
build a large organization to make it understood that there is an 
alternative. It is also an ideological battle.

El Maizal has large challenges. As we face them we will grow. The 
process of building the communes is a learning and teaching process too, 
and we know that folks from around the world will continue to visit us 
and give us guidance, just as we hope to visit other projects and learn 
from them. Wherever life may take us, we will aim to strengthen communal 
and collective popular projects.

asamblea_el_maizalAn assembly in El Maizal Commune, in March 2019. (Cira 
Pascual Marquina/Venezuelanalysis)

/Featured image: Angel Prado is the main spokesperson for El Maizal 
Commune. (Marcelo Volpe)/

Source URL: Venezuelanalysis.com 

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